Basia Bulat Mainstage Tent, Sackville NB, August 3

Basia Bulat Mainstage Tent, Sackville NB, August 3
Photo: Stephen McGill
Basia Bulat had a friendly wager with Steve Lambke of Constantines: "He said I wouldn't have a mosh pit tonight." On most nights, Lambke's bet would have been a safe one; Bulat claimed the only mosh pit her pristine brand of folk music ever generated was when she played the song "Gold Rush" in Dawson City, Yukon. But this wasn't most nights: this was Sappyfest. And sure enough, the eager crowd at the front of the stage began politely slamming into one another to "Gold Rush," and Bulat spent the whole song trying in vain to contain her gleeful smile.

Her music, at this moment, deserves the most intense reaction it can get: last year's Tall Tall Shadow was the sound of Bulat delivering on the promise she's demonstrated from the very beginning of her career. Songs like "It Can't Be You" and "Never Let Me Go" (which she sang with Tamara Lindeman of the Weather Station) are authoritative, solid and strong even at their most breakable. Even when performing solo — switching between harp, keys and guitar — in front of a chatty festival crowd, Bulat's imposing, stunning voice was captivating, so much so that the audience demanded (and received) an encore, a rarity at Sappyfest, even for headliners.

"Don't waste my precious time pretending love is somewhere else," Bulat sang in what was seemingly a new song. She needn't have worried: there was more than enough love to go around at Sappyfest.

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